[left:9e36d5670b]http://www.cherubs-cdh.org/Album/new/Balistreri-Nathan2.jpg[/left:9e36d5670b]Nathan was born in Evanston, Wyoming on August 6, 2004. He was 5 weeks early and required oxygen for a week after his birth. We had a very close call with him. He hadn't moved for 24 hours and the doctor did a stress test which didnít come out very well. He decided to do an ER C-section. Nathan was born with the cord wrapped around his body so tight, the doctor had a hard time cutting underneath it. My placenta was also dying. The doctor told our family that had we waited another 12 hours, we would have had a funeral to plan. Nathan is very special to us. We also found out that his heart isn't on the left side of his chest. After an evaluation in Salt Lake City, Utah, we found that his heart functioned normally and he was still a healthy baby!

Our son Nathan was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia at the age of 7 months. I, his mom, was on vacation in California and Nathan became ill with Bronchialitis. After an ER room visit and x-ray, it was determined that he had a normal chest x-ray. They needed to transfer him to a children's hospital. He was hospitalized for 6 days and then released. We continued with his breathing treatments for about another week and half. During that time he continued to kind of struggle to breathe. We took him to a wonderful pediatrician in Anaheim, California. She was doing everything she knew how to do to treat this bronchialitis. She gave him the maximum amount of medication for the breathing treatments over 6 days. Well, she finally took an x-ray and found that he had NO intestines in his abdomen. When she came in to the room, I asked her to tell me what she thought it was. She told me that she probably didn't think I had heard of it but she suspected that it was a diaphragmatic hernia. She told me and I just started to cry and cry. My husband had a diaphragmatic hernia. His was discovered when he was just a year old. But he had serious complications and nearly died. 15 surgeries in 8 months. He had part of his intestines removed and has horrible scars all over his body. So I was just terrified.

The doctor and I made the decision to have him transported via ambulance to CHOC hospital in Orange, California. We waited for about 2 hours in the doctor's office and within an hour of making that decision, he went downhill. We had to put him on oxygen in the doctors office. Nathan was transferred to another hospital where he stayed for 10 days. He had surgery and everything went well. His lung did collapse and it is damaged until it regenerates in a few years. He spent two days in ICU and he was on a ventilator during that time. He also had a chest tube that was in for 5 days. Once the chest tube and the tube in his nose came out, He was a very happy baby! It was so nice to hold him after 5 days of not being able to do that. I learned a lot through this and I am so grateful for Nathan. My husband understood just a little bit of what his mother and father went through.

The stays at the hospital were very long. I had to do it without my husband. He was in Wyoming and I was in California. I had a few mental breakdowns there. Not being able to hold your son is such an empty and helpless feeling that only a parent can truly understand. It was so hard to see Nathan lying there hurting and not be able to fix him. No one wants to see their child suffer, but I do know that my husband and I are VERY fortunate to have this happen to him when he was older. We met a woman at the hospital Nathan stayed in and her son wasnít that fortunate and died only after 6 weeks of life. We have a healthy son who is doing quite well. Although he will be prone to respiratory illnesses until his lung regenerates, we are so GRATEFUL to have him with us.

Written by The Balistreri Family;
Mark, Jennifer, Emily and Nathan (California)